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Programmable Packet Forwarding Pipelines Using P4 on Software Gone Wild

Every time a new simple programming language is invented, we go through the same predictable cycle:

  • Tons of hype;
  • Unbounded enthusiasm when people who never worked in target environment realize they could get something simple done in a short time;
  • Ever-worsening headaches as the enthusiasts try to get a real job done with the shiny new tool;
  • Disappointment;
  • A more powerful language is invented to replace the old one.

A few years ago we experienced the same cycle when OpenFlow was the-one-tool-to-bind-them all. Not surprisingly, P4 (a more powerful language) was quickly proposed… ironically by the same people who were telling us how awesome OpenFlow was.

Is P4 just another heap of hype or is it useful? Networked Systems Group at ETH Zurich created some interesting applications with P4 and Laurent Vanbever (of the software-defined IXP and Fibbing fame) was kind enough to describe them in Episode 102 of Software Gone Wild.

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